NHL Settles With Some Former Players In Concussions Lawsuit
The NHL has "reached settlements in its concussion litigation with at least 137 former players," according to Rick Westhead of TSN.ca. There were 318 former players, including 146 named plaintiffs, who were "eligible for a settlement." Players who accept the settlement will "receive at least $22,000," and the league also "agreed to fund neuropsychological testing and reimburse up to $75,000 in medical treatment expenses for players who qualify." The NHL, which "denied any liability in the settlement, also promised to create a 'common good' fund" worth more than $2.5M. The settlement is "expected to cost" the NHL a combined $18.9M. Former NHLers Dan Carcillo and Nick Boynton and the families of the late Todd Ewen and Steve Montador have "not agreed to a settlement and have said they are moving forward with individual lawsuits against the NHL" (TSN.ca, 5/6).
BACK TO COURT: The ATLANTIC's Nicolas Pollock noted Kelli Ewen, Todd Ewen's widow, last week "filed a lawsuit against the NHL in relation to his death." Todd Ewen believed he had CTE prior to his death in '15, and Kelli after his death had his brain sent to neuropathologist Lili-Naz Hazrati to be "analyzed for evidence of the disease." Hazrati found CTE was not present, but a re-examination last year by a different doctor "concluded that he in fact did have CTE." In the three-year interim between diagnoses, the NHL "employed Hazrati in its defense of the players’ ongoing head-injury class-action suit." Hazrati in her '15 report "cited Todd’s negative CTE diagnosis to refute a causal link between hockey and CTE." Kelli Ewen’s new lawsuit "could set a precedent for players who don’t accept the settlement and instead pursue their own suits." The NHL "used Ewen’s initial negative diagnosis as a shield during one of its most public confrontations with the demons circling hockey." The league now "might have less to defend itself with in a looming next round of court battles, when players and their families could again press" NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and his colleagues to "reflect on the possibility of hockey’s danger -- and to do more to guard against injury (THEATLANTIC.com, 5/6).
LEAGUE SPEAK: A HAMILTON SPECTATOR editorial states that Bettman continuing to deny a link between hockey and CTE "is offensive." By denying the evidence, Bettman is "hoping to keep the teams' owners, the people he represents, from having to pay out in the future." Lawsuits "settle with the past" and they are "less concerned with what is to come." It is the "league's job, not the courts, to effect appropriate, helpful change to improve" the game. All athletes, from "highly paid pros to impressionable young amateurs, deserve better from someone who claims to be an expert in his sport" (HAMILTON SPECTATOR, 5/7).